YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Customs and Border Protection (CBP) wants to build a new migrant processing center in Yuma County even though current border crossing numbers are the lowest they've been in several years.
It's also not stopping them from filling border gaps.
The Department of Homeland Security wants to purchase about 40 acres of land to build this center.
Replacing the soft-sided processing facilities located in the parking lot next to Yuma Sector Headquarters.
“They’re planning on building a permanent processing center here in Yuma and that is concerning because they are expecting this mass illegal migration to continue,” said Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines.
The Department of Homeland Security proposed two sites to build the new facility, one being the Arizona swap meet.
The other, is an agricultural field west of the Yuma airport runway owned by Yuma County.
This as border gaps are being closed up even though fewer migrants are crossing into Yuma.
“We’re standing at Morelos Dam where three of the 11 gaps that were open when President Biden came into office have been filled and we still have several areas south of Yuma that need to be filled in,” said Lines.
Supervisor Lines said Morelos Dam is where border patrol saw significant activity.
“However that’s shifted somewhat where the reservation begins and also east of San Luis all the way out to Ajo where people are being put into areas that are more difficult to traverse,” said Lines.
Lines said President Biden promised to close nine of the 11 gaps in the Yuma sector the project started in January.
One Yuma visitor I spoke to said he's noticed a major shift.
“We were out here last year and there was a lot more activity down here last year. We had border patrol cars running up and down. We had been visited by border patrol 30, 40 minutes after being down here,” said Steve, a Yuma visitor.
CBP said in July there were just under 7,000 encounters in the Yuma Sector.
Down 73% compared to this time last year.
It's also the lowest number seen since February 2021, when Yuma County saw a little over 5,000 migrants at the border.
Still, local leaders say you always have to be prepared for another possible surge.